The first snow of winter is ushered in by great anticipation...and always with surprise. Even if only a few short flurries the season of winter enters the year with true joy in the hearts of those who truly understand the beauty that is the season.
The younger ones among us dream of school closing, the thrill of sled ridding ice skating, warm bonfires with baked potatoes and corn warming in the coals. Bundled warmly the eager ones face and challenge the cold elements for a brush with excitement. It is a time of proving among one's peers that one can negotiate a treacherous sled trail. Braving dangerous curves. Steep slopes, and trees in their path. There is truly an art and skilI in that activity. For in its safe completion there is a camaraderie among the victors. Of being accepted. Respected. The steps toward manhood have begun many times on the slopes of winter's hillsides.
For adults winter is a time of warm closeness. Trudging together the white unspoiled trails of uncharted paths where no footprints have gone before. There is laughter. Embracing. Quiet seclusion with new found closeness between lovers. Accompanied by the chaperon that is the hiss of falling flakes that decorate with the purity of white the bare outline of nature's limbs.
It is cold noses countered by warm hearts on which many dreams are built for future times. Thus winter is a time of building love. For in those dreams lie hidden those future times as life lies hidden in winter's starkness.
For the older among us, winter and that first snow become a time of reminiscing of bygone times and perhaps we may begin planning for what little time remains. But mainly a reminiscing of bygone times of youth. And youthful things. There before the hearth perhaps too feeble and fragile for the physical fun of winter, the older heart finds solace in warm memory. To prove the point one can see the delight and exhilaration of those first few flakes in the eyes and squeals of children. And reverie and tear in the eyes of the older ones. But the common bond enjoining them all is the virgin beauty of winter's white garb that first snow fall.
And yet winter is a horrid inconvenience for those of all ages who are weak in spirit and who have no grasp of the special beauty of the season. For there is a spiritual nature to winter of hidden promise that many fail to see, in all the sport and joy, in all the memory and quiet solitude there is, in winter, that hidden promise of life to be. For winter is a resting time not only for the Creative Force and Preserver of life but also for mankind and most of the other "higher" life forms. All of them rely on their instincts to guide them through this time to fairer times. Pity those poor creatures who live in areas where winter cannot come. How drab and monotonous are their lives spent in eternal warmth and plenty. For they are never tested. For only winter can foster the true love and proper reverence of Spring. And summer. Strange that in many ways, the stark gray sky and the snows of winter easily usurp the blaring beauty and awe inspiring color of the autumn. For neither season can be seen and felt in its proper beauty without the other. The cool crisp breeze of autumn with its exhilarating colors can be the only entrance---and rightly so---to the quiet white purity of winter when those first few flakes begin to fall.
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